The Common Loon (Gavia immer) is one of five species of the family of birds known as Gaviidae, and the only loon species to breed in the northern United States. Three of the other species, Yellow-Billed (Gavia adamsii), Red-Throated (Gavia stellata) and Pacific loons (Gavia pacifica), breed in northern North America on arctic waterbodies, and are occasionally observed further south during migration. Arctic loons (Gavia arctica) live on waterbodies in northern Europe and Asia, and look very similar to Pacific loons.
Species of Special Concern
Common Loons are a Species of Special Concern in New York State and are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Their populations face numerous threats, including environmental mercury pollution, shoreline development, fishing line entanglement, lead poisoning from ingestion of toxic fishing tackle, and human disturbance.
Loons live 20-30 years and are fish-eating birds at the top of the aquatic food web. They are a signature species for understanding environmental quality and the health of aquatic ecosystems on a regional and global scale.